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Release of viewership data: TRAI to take action against BARC after April 5

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a showcause notice to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India for not complying with its direction on release of TV viewership data on its website during the television sector’s migration to the new tariff regime. 

Furthermore, the regulator has given BARC India time till April 5, 2019 to explain why action should not be taken against it for contravention of sections of the TRAI Act. 

When reached out for comments, a BARC India spokesperson said that it had temporarily suspended making public limited set of data given the “significant volatility in data” due to “distribution disruptions” in the NTO (new tariff order) transition period. It said making public such “misleading” data would be against public interest and could be open to “misuse by vested interests”. 

“BARC India is a joint industry body, and operates under self-regulation model, in compliance with Ministry of I&B Guidelines. In the NTO transition period, due to distribution disruptions (which have been well documented in media reports), there is significant volatility in data. 

Due to this, and the fact that data in this period does not truly reflect viewers’ choice, BARC India Technical Committee and Board took a decision to temporarily suspend placing the limited set of data our website. 

Putting such misleading data on website would be against public interest and could be misused by vested interests. BARC is constantly monitoring the ground situation on this.  We have made detailed submissions to TRAI and MIB, backed by data, on several occasions.

Also, we would like to re-iterate that there has been no stoppage of data to our subscribers. Every week, our clients have been receiving weekly data without any disruption.”

TRAI in its showcause notice dated March 29, 2019 also stated that BARC India had not complied with its past direction given on February 22, 2019, seeking immediate release of viewership data (for the week ending February 8 and subsequent weeks) on its website. 

Meanwhile, BARC said that it is constantly monitoring the ground situation on this. They had also made detailed submissions to TRAI and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, backed by data, on several occasions. “Also, we would like to reiterate that there has been no stoppage of data to our subscribers. Every week, our clients have been receiving weekly data without any disruption,” the spokesperson said.

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